Senators remembered State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Jasper, on Thursday reflecting on his booming voice, big heart and faith.
"We have seen a giant of this Senate fall," said state Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence.
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw,was desk-mates with Pinckney whose desk was draped in a black cloth, according to Senate tradition.
Senators watched a video of Pinckney from April when Pinckney spoke from the floor about the need for police body cameras after Walter Scott was shot and killed by a white police officer in Charleston.
Sheheen remembered Pinckney in a "joyous" way, reflecting on the former senator's tardiness and the gentle senator.
Pinckney, a Jasper County Democrat who served in the General Assembly for 18 years, died Wednesday after a shooting in the Charleston church where he was the pastor, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said. He was 41.
U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn: “It is with great sadness that I heard of the unspeakable tragedy that occurred in Charleston last night. My heart goes out to the victims, including State Senator Clementa Pinckney, their friends and family and members of Emanuel AME Church. I am distraught that this kind of hate still exists in our country and specifically in my home state of South Carolina. I'm reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. We must take these horrific crimes that are happening across our states and teach our neighbors that hate is not the answer. Please pray with me today for the Charleston community as they begin the healing process.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.: “The Charleston church killings are a tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation. This senseless violence fills me with outrage, disgust and a deep, deep sadness. The hateful killing of nine people praying inside a church is a horrific reminder that, while we have made significant progress in advancing civil rights in this country, we are far from eradicating racism. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their congregation.”
Rep. Carl L. Anderson, Chairman SC Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. John R. King, Chairman-Elect, SC Legislative Black Caucus: “It is with heavy hearts that we, SC Legislative Black Caucus, mourn the death of our colleague Senator Clementa Pinckney. His life and the lives of 8 others were taken in an act of domestic terrorism. The horrific events of last evening may have shaken our resolve but we are standing strong. We have lost a mighty Statesman and Man of God who will long be remembered for this integrity and servant nature.
Senator Pinckney was a servant leader who used his life to demonstrate his passion and love for his God and his community. A man of grand stature in appearance and spirit, Senator Pinckney was a voice of reason for those in which he served. Since his time in the legislature, Senator Pinckney has brought positive change to not only the lives to the residents of Jasper County, but also to the lives of everyone he touched. Our prayers and love go out to his wife Jennifer and two children Eilana and Malana and family members. We also pray for the families of the other 8 victims, the community as well as the entire Mother Emanuel AME Church family.”
Sen. Hugh Leatherman, President Pro Tempore: “It is with heartache and sadness to learn that one of our beloved Senators has been killed in the brutal massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last night. Senator Clementa C. Pinckney was a leader in the Senate of South Carolina, a strong advocate for his constituents, a great pastor and community leader, but most importantly, a cherished and loved husband, father and son. The entire Senate of South Carolina extends our love and sympathy to Jennifer, Eliana, Malana, and to the rest of his family.
Our hearts and prayers also extend to the families of the other victims of this unspeakable act.
The victims were in a Bible study, learning the Word of God, in one of the most beloved institutions in our State whose roots go back to the dark days of slavery. What happened last night is incomprehensible.
We ask that all law enforcement departments work diligently and swiftly to apprehend the suspect and bring swift justice to him. Any and all resources should be used on a local, state and national level.
May God Bless Senator Pinckney’s family, the families of the other victims, the members of Emanuel AME Church, and all of South Carolina.”
State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington: “He was the most kind, gentle man in the Senate and I am not just saying that now,” she said. “He was quiet ... until he spoke with that beautiful Barry White voice. His words were always well thought out, not just words. He always stopped by to ask how you were doing and shake your hand or pat you on the back. He was a good man.”
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston: “Pinckney was the moral conscious of the General Assembly. He will be dearly missed, but it’s up to us as elected officials to use this as an opportunity to bring healing to the nation and double our efforts to foster race relations in the state,” Kimpson said in an interview Thursday morning near Pinckney’s church.